2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT
Class: Midsize Car
Miles driven: 553
Fuel used: 22.1 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 25.0 mpg
Driving mix: 20% city, 80% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/30/26 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $39,695 (not including $1010 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: None
Price as tested: $40,705
The great: Roomy, nicely finished cabin; promise of Subaru off-road/foul-weather prowess; comprehensive list of safety, comfort, and technology features
The good: Ample power from turbocharged engine; wagon utility
The not so good: Observed fuel economy falls a bit short of EPA estimates
Subaru’s popular “SUV-ized” midsize wagon has been redesigned for 2020, and we at Consumer Guide were impressed enough with the new model’s improvements that we added it to our 2020 Best Buys list. The Outback deftly straddles the line between a traditional passenger car and an SUV—while leaning toward the former, since it’s based on the architecture of Subaru’s Legacy midsize sedan (which has also been redesigned for 2020). The Outback’s mix of car and SUV attributes make it a “best of both worlds” proposition for many family-vehicle shoppers.
Though its raised ride height means the Outback’s on-road handling is a step less nimble than the average midsize car’s, it nonetheless feels balanced and predicable in corners, with responsive, nicely-weighted steering. And since the Outback is a passenger-car-based wagon, the height of its cargo area isn’t quite as tall as the typical SUV’s. So, while you might not be able to carry extra-large cargo items in back, the upside is that the Outback’s roof—and its handy, built-in roof rack—are accordingly lower and easier to access.
Passenger room and comfort is commendable in both the front and rear seats. That high-ish ride height helps ease entry and exit, especially for adults who might not be as spry or flexible as they used to be. The generously sized windows make for fine visibility in all directions.
After previously testing an Outback Onyx Edition XT, we’ve taken a step up the model ladder and sampled the Touring XT—the Outback’s topline trim level. Not surprisingly, the Touring XT comes essentially loaded. Its standard features over the midline Limited model include perforated Nappa-leather upholstery, ventilated front seats (in addition to heated), and a sunroof. The only things it doesn’t come standard with are a wireless device charger (which is available as an accessory option for $245), and accessory items such as all-weather floor mats, a cargo net, and, if you’re really thinking of taking your Outback way out back, under guards for the engine and differential to protect them from damage on rugged off-road terrain.
That XT suffix indicates the presence of the Outback’s step-up engine choice: a 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which takes the place of the previous-generation Outback’s 256-hp 3.6-liter 6-cylinder. And, it’s quite a step-up in price–$2350, in the case of the Touring (though you also get insulated front-door glass in the bargain). And, the turbo four supplies fine acceleration that’s stronger all-around than the naturally aspirated 182-hp 2.5-liter base engine. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is mostly seamless in operation, with little of the high-RPM droning that used to be common with this type of transmission. The auto stop/start isn’t the smoothest such system we’ve tested—the engine restarts with a bit of a shudder. The system can be turned off, but it defaults to on every time you start the vehicle.
The Outback XTs are EPA-rated at 23 mpg city/30 highway/26 combined. Our observed numbers fell a bit below those estimates; we averaged 25 mpg even in a test that consisted of 80 percent highway driving.
The Touring’s interior ambiance is inviting—a nice mix of upscale and adventure-ready. The leather upholstery is supple, and the seats are comfortable on long-haul drives. We also appreciated the Touring’s standard heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and heated outboard rear seats. The DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, optional on Limiteds and standard on Tourings, is a rarity among mainstream-brand vehicles. It uses a camera and facial-recognition technology to monitor the driver’s eyes and face, and sounds a warning if it senses the driver is distracted.
The vertically oriented, tablet-style STARLINK infotainment screen is impressively large—11.6 inches—and has clear graphics and usefully large icons. However, the virtual climate controls are located at the bottom of the screen, and some of those virtual buttons are small enough to be tricky to use while driving. Kudos to Subaru, however, for retaining a few physical controls, including the volume and tuning knobs.
Subaru’s all-weather hauler is a practical family vehicle that offers a comprehensive list of available comfort, safety, and technology features, along with an outdoorsy, go-anywhere attitude. At an as-tested price of $40,705 all in, the flagship Outback Touring XT presents itself as a compelling value when shopped against decked-out 5-passenger midsize SUVs.